Political pundit Will Hutton has attacked Lord Rogers’ urban regeneration plans saying the taskforce will need at least double the £300-600m a year it asked for this week.
Hutton, an economist who now heads the Industrial Society, said the Rogers taskforce had failed to understand what needed to be done to turn round run-down towns and cities. He said far more radical proposals were required.
He added that many areas needed to be pulled down and rebuilt from scratch, and far more attention had to be paid to reskilling and remotivating the people who lived in them. Hutton told Building: “I think we’re talking about a
10-year programme that will cost no less than £1bn and as much as £2bn a year over a 10-year period.”
Hutton, formerly editor of The Observer, made his comments this week when he introduced a report by the Building Centre Trust, My Kind of Town. This presents the views of a number of leading lights in the design and construction industry on urban renewal.
The government-backed taskforce, which unveiled costings for its proposals this week, will present its recommendations to the Exchequer. They will be considered in the Treasury’s comprehensive three-year spending review, to be announced later this year.
Both the taskforce and the Building Centre Trust reports will be submitted to the DETR ahead of the publication of its urban white paper.
The two most expensive of the taskforce’s proposals are a £500m fund for community-based projects, and a land development company that would have an initial capital allocation of £100-250m. It also wants £1m to set up local architecture centres in at least 12 cities to raise standards. These centres would have running costs of about £3m a year.
The taskforce report was also criticised by leading project manager EC Harris. Its head of regeneration, Mark White, said: “The taskforce proposals call for a minimum annual spend of about £230m. Although that’s a significant spend, the broad-brush approach of the costing suggests they have not yet been thought through fully.”
He added: “The fact that it’s been a year between the release of this spending package and the original report is outrageous.”